back to article Jumpin' Meerkats! Ubuntu moving to daily downloads?

Ubuntu is moving away from its established six-month-cycle and potentially to a future where software updates land on a daily basis. Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth said during an Ubuntu 10.10 conference call last month that a move to daily updates would help the popular Linux distro keep pace with an increasingly complex …

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This might be a good thing . . .

Totally aside from Mr. Shuttleworth's desire to turn his "software center" into a source of revenue, this would prove useful for those of us whose hardware isn't immediately supported. For example - 9.10 supports my HP Desktop's temperature sensors, but not the sensors on my HP Laptop or my Gateway desktop. I have to move to 10.10 to see the temperatures on my laptop, but 10.10 doesn't support reading the sensors on my Gateway. Daily updates would mean that I could grab the modules when they come out, rather than having to wait for the next release.

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Anonymous Coward

PPA's :D

Missing kernel modules for your sensors? Install build-essential, download the source for them, ./configure, make, make install, reboot, and they'll be there. Or if that's too technical, you have the option of adding the appropriate PPA to your software sources, and installing them prebuilt. PPA's are awesome for sticking with the long term supported Ubuntu, while keeping stuff like Pidgin, GIMP, etc. on the bleeding edge. Give them a try!

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FAIL

IF it's too technical?

"...you have the option of adding the appropriate PPA to your software sources, and installing them prebuilt..."

Right. That's the NON-technical way to do things, in the "for humans" distro...

*rolls eyes*

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What so anti-profit?

Maybe I am reading more into it than what your actually said, but why the snide comment about mkaing a profit from the software centre? This is a business, companies need revenue. If you don't like it, then don't buy from it. And at least with Linux there are other distros that you can choose.

As for Ubuntu going rolling-release...hmm...I started on Ubuntu and I am still a total newb, but already the lock-down and breaking away from the community is beginning to grate. Maybe I'll buy a book, magic up some time from *somewhere* and teach myself how to install and configure Arch.

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Alert

because

.. non technical people want to know the temperature reading on their CPU/GPU (especially as it's unlikely to give an accurate readout).

If you're demanding a technical element then expecting you to type a few words into a console doesn't seem too much to ask.

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Pint

Sigh

"Right. That's the NON-technical way to do things, in the "for humans" distro..."

You are on an IT tech website, you do have a passing interest in IT and tech, right? It's really not very hard to do what he's suggesting. Honestly. Not in a snide "why don't you just use the CLI?" kind of way, it genuinely is pretty simple. If you don't want to make any effort at all, perhaps you're in the wrong game?

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Just wanted the answer...

He just wanted the answer himself, so he could know how to do it!

AND, yah I remember wanting these readings like 8-10 years ago, and it took more to config GKrellm on RH9 & Mandrake 8.

(I was a child)

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Anonymous Coward

yes, this is a tech site...

...But ubuntu is -aimed- at nontechnical people. You're saying there aren't any devices out there that wouldn't require such effort? I have to think there are plenty of similar situations for 'normal' hardware. And if ubuntu/linux-in-general people don't realize that their idea of nontechnical is joe sixpack's idea of 'phd in computer science', windows will remain dominant, no matter how deficient.

I've done a lot of searches for random hardware drivers for work... Printers, video cards, external hard drives, whatever. And a good chunk of the time there are ubuntu forum he'll requests on the first page! And if you go in there, the solution, a good chunk of the time, is multiple pages of CLI acrobatics. Gramma ain't gonna do that to get her printer running.

Either straight up say, 'this is for techies or those who want to learn', or stop the delusions of normal-person grandeur. I'm fairly technical - I program motion systems for a living and have done lots of low level wacky embedded code - but every linux distro I've tried has ended up with a "fuck it". That's not the way to win hearts and minds - and it's all the more frustrating because the tech is -so damn close- now.

But the inability of the community to realize that 'non-technical' means 'tivo' and not 'make install" is crippling the effort. The smackdown I got for pointing this all out is more evidence of this. Linux is like someone calling and inviting you to a party, giving you its latitude and longitude, and hanging up on you when you ask for directions.

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Pint

Hmmm

You're implying it's easier to install windows drivers for a hardware device than a ubuntu module for the same device. It kind of isn't, exclusively ... some devices will be harder than others in either o/s.

To be quite frank, if i boot off a recent ubuntu live cd, it tends to find all my hardware and just work. Your mileage may differ. Windows 7 also tends to "just work" these days. However, if either fails, the average grandma isn't going to know to go to the manufacturer's site and download drivers. You're not selling me that people "just know" how to do that on windows, but don't if they use ubuntu ...

I do love this paragraph though. Can't begin to guess what you meant to say;

"I've done a lot of searches for random hardware drivers for work... Printers, video cards, external hard drives, whatever. And a good chunk of the time there are ubuntu forum he'll requests on the first page!"

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Pint

Also ...

Do you really think you're the only visionary to spot it would be better if hardware was easier to configure / install drivers? Really? Only, that's why it's a hell of a lot easier than it used to be on linux - because every other person in the world who's used linux figured that out and folk started making it easier. They're not holding back that process for elitist reasons, particularly ubuntu. Unfortunately it takes time to do that for EVERY piece of obscure hardware.

In other words, you're saying nothing people don't already understand, and are working on. All you're really saying is "hurry up!" while not helping the process to hurry up in any way whatsoever. If that's the best you can do, keep your opinion to yourself.

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Good News

I for one think this is great News.

Ubuntu seems all new and exciting when there is a new release but 4-5 months on it starts to look pretty old in comparison to my Arch Desktop.

In the last 2 years running Arch (at home + at work) I have only been 'damaged' once by a bad update (which I was able to fix myself), if Arch can successfully manage a rolling release distro - why not Ubuntu...

Foe example the new desktop patch (http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/210966/tiny_linux_kernel_patch_delivers_huge_speed_boost.html) will be in kernel 2.6.38 - as it stands unless you compile your own kernel you will not get that feature..

It is kind of mad that in many ways it is easier at the moment to get the 'latest' stable version of perl,php,mysql, etc in Windows than on most distro's - some distro's have backports (not usually the latest) or its a case of source install (arch linux is probably the easiest way of getting the latest software - useful for PCI compliance..) - It should be easier to get the latest OSS software in general Linx distros.

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Linux

It's a good idea.

Mint brought out a debian based version with rolling release a few months ago. It's currently on my laptop, and working just fine so far. No reason why Canonical can't do the same.

6 month releases with all new all shiny stuff is good to a point. Lots of new stuff to try out. But I'll be the first to admit, it is a hassle to do a clean install every time. I look forward to more rolling update distros. Install once and forget it until the hard drive wears out.

Only problem I can see is if they need to d a major overhaul. Sometimes a clean install is a good thing. But we shall see what we shall see.

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they already release updates daily

Software updates already come though daily, you dont have to wait 6 months for a new open office or firefox, the update manager prompts you whenever a new version of an installed app hits the repo's

if it's ubuntu incremental version updates your talking about then ok, but kernel's etc... are already updated as and when they come out, not every 6 months

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Bronze badge

kernel updates

It's only minor (presumably security) updates to the kernel that occur between releases. For instance, the last release is all versions of 2.6.32 and 10.10 will only use versions of 2.6.35.

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Hmm

That sounds rather like Debian unstable (Sid)...

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Yeh ...

Except Debian Sid is a more stable distro ...

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Bad News

Not a fan of rolling releases, meself.

Updates tend to break too many things, because it becomes too difficult each app's/library's interaction with every possible "other version" of the apps/libraries installed on a user's system since the last major release "code freeze" (i.e., the point at which an ISO image is released).

What would be preferable, IMNSHO, is to make it a lot easier for users to add/subtract updates provided by LaunchPad PPAs through Ubuntu Software Center.

This way, users can test "bleeding edge" packages and send feedback, but still be able to revert to a consistent baseline, should they so choose...

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Bronze badge

Not convinced

Well software updates already happen when they happen in Ubuntu. I suspect this is more to do with the fact that Shuttleworth has finally realized that the six month major release cycle is unrealistic. He quite simply can't come up with major new features every six months. If he convinces his disciples that they are getting updates as soon as they are available, he can move away from his self imposed six monthly major release cycle and start releasing major updates when the ideas are there rather than trying to come up with ideas to match an entirely artificial update cycle.

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Anonymous Coward

Or maybe...

They're having trouble keeping up with the nifty names?

Naughty Narwals

Overweight Orangutangs

Pompous Penguins

Qixotic Quails

Rubenesque Rottweilers

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Linux

Not Good enough, Mark!

Daily rolling releases are not good enough!

I have come to expect more of Canonical as Ubuntu is the only OS I use and love!

I want my Ubuntu releases the day before! OK! ::))))))))

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WTF?

Can't say I like the idea...

What does this mean for software quality? I'm not crazy about updating something that often anyway...what if the updater breaks or can't be tested sufficiently to assure it doesn't cause an odd data corruption bug on XYZ's hardware at 4:01 PM?

Personally, I think there's been a downturn in software reliability "out of the box" once developers realized the benefits of flashable memories and easily delivered software updates...having to ship disks or actual ROM chips surely made product vendors think about getting it right the first time.

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Paris Hilton

Downturn.....

Since when has their been an UPTURN in reliability?

The more components you add, the more possible points of failure...esp. since their developed by humans.

Paris, b/c I'd like to know WHY the F she's on el Reg to begin with? The "news" reminds me of her presence enough!

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Anonymous Coward

I'm already sick of getting a new kernel every five minutes

This is a straight up terrible idea. Give me something with a bunch of components that work together every six months. Feel free to provide upgrades for key applications like firefox and openoffice when they drop, but I can generally wait for the latest cruft to hit my underlying system at least until it's not quite so full of holes. Well, I'd also like them to figure out and delete all the modules for the previous kernel edition rather than leaving a gig of crap on my system, but I guess they were too busy shifting desktop paradigms to think about that.

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ubuntu-tweak

you can remove old modules with ubuntu-tweak

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Bronze badge

Uninstall them

in exactly the same way remove any other software on your machine

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FAIL

Ubuntu-tweak??

Oho. Searched Ubuntu website and got this:

http://www.ubuntu.com/search/google-appliance/ubuntu-tweak.

Oh, right, it's probably in a locked filing cabinet in a basement with no stairs, with a sign "Beware of the leopard" nailed to the door.

If I can't find it on the web-page with Ubuntu's search engine to search the site, what the fuc*k chance has Harry Halfwitt got???

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fault-tolerance revisited (again)

It seems as though Ubuntu have forgotten, or never heard, the old joke about Microsoft short-cutting the long-standing race to develop a fault-tolerant computer. They developed instead, of course, the fault-tolerant user. The distinction between "release" and "update" is clear for MS - the former is an update which they feel they can get away with charging for. What's the distinction for Ubuntu? Or are they abandoning the idea of a release altogether?

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Megaphone

Butter FS

the final piece of the puzzle would be to get Btrfs (butter fs) ready and integrated with grub, then we can revert back in case a package or upgrade messes up something.

Of course lets see if its ready to substitute ext4 by then, it needs as much love as possible so breakage can be a thing of the past!

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bitter fs

having lost a huge chunk of work due to a btrfs bug and it taking a very long time to rebuild, the btrfs stuff needs to be kept away from 'real' systems for a very long time. Also, if the project's key sponsor believes in open source they will simply release ZFS under GPL and screw the consequences (Larry can afford to wait a year for a new yacht or a new MiG). Secondly, if btrfs is as good as various Orcl press releases would have had us believe, it would be production quality by now. It's about as production quality as a Oracle 8 was when it shipped (yeah ok I'm old - for those who don't remember, it's release notes were as accurate as Phil Woolas's manifesto).

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LTS & STS

In my view this is a risky step. Each time there is a release, major bugs appear on previously working apps and I have had to scurry round trying to 'fix' them. I don't upgrade to a LTS until at least a month after the release. I never use a STS as the support time is just not long enough. In summary, I wish that Canonical would go to yearly releases and use the effort currently used for STS instead for fixing bugs.

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Linux

But what for?

For servers? Yes, I can see the value in sticking with LTS and waiting that month. But why use Ubuntu rather than CentOS?

For desktops? No, no point in worrying so much. Just shove 'em on the current one and marvel at the shinyness.

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Alert

Reboots and reliability

Daily releases are fine if there's decent quality control on what gets released!

Too many "developers" -- and I use the term loosely, some seem more like amateur software writers -- just rely on the frequent updates and have an attitude that they can release buggy code because tomorrow they can release something with some bugs added, some bugs removed and some altered and stuff the poor user who'se trying to use the PC. to do something useful. Greater intervals between the releases increases the chance that decent testing, both of the package and regression testing of the system, will take place.

The other hassle to frequent updates is when its the kernel or something else critical and wants a reboot. Live updates of kernels anyone, it must be possible?

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Thumb Up

THIS

"Too many "developers" -- and I use the term loosely, some seem more like amateur software writers -- just rely on the frequent updates and have an attitude that they can release buggy code because tomorrow they can release something with some bugs added"

THIS, is my biggest fear, since I'll be trying to use Ubuntu in multiple production environments soon...

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Vic
Silver badge

Of course.

> Live updates of kernels anyone, it must be possible?

It is. Search for "ksplice".

It's been a while since I tried it, so my knowledge is somewhat out of date, but I got it to work. I also decided I'd need a damn good reason to want to try it again.

If your uptime guarantee doesn't allow enough time for a reboot, you're probably not using enough hardware...

Vic.

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A happy Dell

Dell will be extremely happy

They are still selling laptops with the soon to be unsupported ubuntu 9.10 ....

they clearly dont like full upgrades every 6 months and users dont like to buy an aging distro.

Rolling release will mean that hardware manufacturers can now embrace fully.

so, with a good testing of packages and btrfs able to make system snapshots and revert back in case of failures directly from the grub, then ubuntu will be pretty much perfect!

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Users and aging distros?

What's the problem? You get the machine, spark it up and it looks for updates. Same as that other operating system that they pre-install.My biggest problem is when updates break things.

* I dumped Windows because Microsoft's updates broke my Win2K install (yes it was that long ago).

* I dumped UBUNTU because their updates broke a critical php app and I couldn't (easily) roll back the change.

* I dumped KDE because they released a really incomplete & buggy 4.0 which the distros picked up as if it was a clean and functional GUI. I still don't like KDE4, but that may change.

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Stop

"In an internet-oriented world, we need to be able to release something every day."

Why don't you try this:

"In an internet-oriented world, we need to be able to release something when we need to, without artificial six-month cycles or idiotic 'dev cycles daily!' mentality."

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Don't like it

Having suffered the constant updates of vista I know how irritating it is for people to wait for computers doing stuff that they want to do and delay my work. If you have to do it, do it but at least keep an option for scheduling updates like on weekends or something.

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Negating value

I'm okay with daily releases, but I hope that they will be at least a couple weeks behind. The whole value of Ubuntu was that they integrated all the builds and made sure that they played well together. Tell the truth, you could do that on a daily basis, given time to test. But if they are just rolling out all the nightly builds as they are released, what is the value?

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Linux

Linux Mint Debian Edition

my rolling desktop distro since Sept.

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X-windows

The move to dumping X-windows in exchange for something else is a tad alarming. It's like Shuttleworth is aiming to produce a proprietary form of Linux.

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Boffin

Re: X11

It's not really alarming or surprising. X is moving too slowly, the X11 protocol is 23 years old and it's really showing it's age.

Those media keys on your new keyboard don't work? Well that's the fault of X11, the kernel drivers support the keys and the end-user applications support them, but the X11 protocol which sits in the middle does not. I've seen kernel developers on the verge of tears when they learnt that two years of coordinated work on the native input layer was all for nothing because X silently dropped key codes that it cannot handle. I know guys at Red Hat who are just as sick at the pace of X development even though their own colleagues are the ones working on it. Most of the X extensions have been designed with fantastic new features which can't be used because the protocol has no support. X12 development is non-existent, they are still asking for input on features and those I've spoken to on the inside say that we shouldn't expect to see it finished in the next few years.

So yes, it's actually a good thing that someone is talking about alternatives to X. Modern distros need a modern window system or at least a modern protocol. Maybe it's time for Linux to cut these final ties to it's Unix heritage.

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Desktop

Then he's dumping the desktop for something else. I dunno. I've been following the debate elsewhere and see a great deal of unease, if only because the man does not appear to be doing it as a part of the Linux community, but as a private initiative. I know that X windows has faults, but Shuttleworth's way of going about it has me unsettled. By that I mean he's doing it, not talking about it. That could be precipitate, and it could lead down a proprietary path. After all, he's a businessman, not a charity.

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Linux

A little less conversation, a little more action please

Trust me when I say as an open source developer that if you want to get anything done you don't talk about it but beg forgiveness afterwards. The product will either stand on it's own because it meets the requirements or it will fail, but at least it will get done. In the wider world when 'standards' are being put together and every party's input much be considered it can take years for them to become official, we need a solution NOW.

Everyone and their dog has an opinion about the direction of development in open source. Most simply have no understanding, they are not programmers and have never contributed anything but their opinions. If you stop to discuss a proposed feature in the open then it quickly spirals out of all control and what was once a simple project with clear goals quickly becomes a quagmire where no-one is happy because their idea was dismissed. I've seen far too many projects die on their arse because they decided to 'talk' about their plans and not a single line of code ever gets written.

I'm no Ubuntu fan but even if you suspect Shuttleworth's motives, you can't really object to what he is doing. Whatever they create will be open source so in that sense it cannot be wholly proprietary, more than likely Ubuntu will release the project to a cross-distro committee for future development/maintenance once they have something to show. It will either find favour with the community and therefore survive or it will not. There is no dark sinister conspiracy here, it's difficult if not impossible to pull off Gates or Jobs style Machiavellian plots in the open source world.

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FAIL

Sounds a bit like M$

"We're releasing every day so if it doesn't work we can just fix it tomorrow...." - sounds like the release system used by everyone's 'favorite' OS manufacturer.

Also, there's nothing I hate worse than needing to perform updates frequently, and my bandwidth being eaten by a computer downloading updates in the background doesn't appeal either.

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update when u want

you're not forced to update anything.

if you want to update your packages in 5 years, than be my guest.

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Linux

Ubuntu as a rolling distro...

Is a good thing, it makes possible to avoid the horrible cycle of having to reinstall the OS just to upgrade a single application.

Yes I know it can be done compiling or via PPA, but this is way better, at the end of the day officially sanctioned packages from your distro is the way forward.

Saves a lot of headaches.

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Flame

Uh-oh.

Speaking as a hardcore Gentoo ricer, I would just like to say: 'Welcome to a world of pain'.....

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Unhappy

so you

have never had an update break anything on your system. Ever.

Just roll back. Yeah right. Time wasted, downloading bandwidth wasted.

When it's you wireless that's broken by an update, it's painful, man

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Oi Shuttleworth! No!

I have enough crap to deal with on a daily basis from security updates to Windows, Linux and apps without you pushing new (probably broken) feqatures at me daily. Even the 6 month release cycle is more than I can be arsed with and I usually skip every other release. If I want an app to be bleeding edge I'll update it from the PPAs.

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